Real Madrid host Malaga later tonight for their La Liga fixture

Los Blancos – who dropped to third in the “Money League” earlier this week – have lost two games in a row after going 40 games unbeaten, with two disappointing results against Sevilla and Celta Vigo in the La Liga and Copa del Rey respectively. Zinedine Zidane’s men have looked poor in both those games and will be looking to prove a point against Malaga.

Pepe (Calf) and Gareth Bale (Ankle) remain long-term absentees, while Dani Carvajal – who has missed the last two games with a muscle injury – will also miss out against Malaga. This means that Danilo will start the match, although the right-back has been getting some heavy criticism for his performances lately.

Madrid will also be without James Rodriguez, who has missed the past 4 games with a calf injury. Speaking ahead of the game, Zinedine Zidane confirmed that the Colombian superstar would be unavailable for the game but hoped that he would return to training by Monday :

“He still has a few problems, but hopefully he will be back with us by Monday. We have had to deal with a lot of injuries from knocks, but no real muscle injuries. I hope James can return to the fold on Monday. The doctors and physios are doing great work with the players who are still injured,” he said, according to the club’s official website.

Real Madrid's Colombian midfielder James Rodriguez lies on the ground as he celebrates after scoring during the Spanish Copa del Rey (King's Cup) Round of 32 second leg football match Real Madrid CF vs Cultural y Deportiva Leonesa at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid on November 30, 2016. (Photo by Javier Soriano/AFP/Getty Images)

Missing again : Rodriguez will not be fit in time for Madrid’s clash with Malaga (Photo by Javier Soriano/AFP/Getty Images)

Rodriguez aggravated his calf issue last week and has been training alone as he looks to get fit. This could mean that Isco will start, after the Spaniard made the bench against Celta Vigo after recovering from an ankle injury.

Marco Asensio was forced off against Celta Vigo after picking up a knock, but has recovered in time for this fixture. The former Mallorca midfielder was forced to go to the hospital after a nasty clash with Facundo Roncaglia, but X-rays showed there is no fracture to his arm and he trained normally on Friday.

Fabio Coentrao is also available after missing the Copa del Rey fixture, but has been left out of the squad. Zidane has no other players missing through suspension or injury, and will definitely be naming a strong side for this clash as Madrid look to continue their push for the La Liga title.

Keylor Navas will start once again despite heavy criticism for his performances, while Danilo will complete Madrid’s defence alongside Sergio Ramos, Raphael Varane and Marcelo. In midfield, Zidane is likely to play his preferred three of Toni Kroos, Luka Modric and Casemiro.

Should Isco start, he will slot into the No. 10 position behind Cristiano Ronaldo and Karim Benzema. Marco Asensio and Lucas Vazquez could also feature at some point, but it remains to be seen if any of them will start the match.

Provisional Squad

Goalkeepers : Navas, Casilla, Yanez

Defenders : Ramos, Varane, Nacho, Danilo, Marcelo, Coentrao

Midfielders : Kroos, Casemiro, Kovacic, Modric, Asensio, Isco

Forwards : Cristiano Ronaldo, Benzema, Lucas Vázquez, Mariano, Morata.

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